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Aer Lingus celebrates 50th anniversary of transatlantic flying

29th April 2008 Print
Aer Lingus today celebrates its 50th anniversary of transatlantic flying, marking the dawn of the first Aer Lingus Transatlantic flight which left Dublin and Shannon for New York in 1958.

The celebration will be marked at an event this afternoon in the American Ambassador, Thomas C. Foley's Residence in the Phoenix Park and will be attended by a number of dignitaries including the Minister for Transport, Noel Dempsey TD and former Taoiseach, Dr Garret FitzGerald, an employee of Aer Lingus from 1947 to 1959, holding the position of Research and Schedules Manager.

Aer Lingus management and retired employees including cabin crew from the inaugural flight will be in attendance at the anniversary event at which there will be an exhibition of old photos and memorabilia from the airline's history such as old copies of Cara magazine, menus from the time, copies of Aer Sceala, the airline's internal magazine, tickets from 1958 and vintage Aer Lingus adverts. Aer Lingus cabin crew will be dressed in uniforms from the 1950s to the 1960s.

Marking the occasion, Dermot Mannion, Chief Executive of Aer Lingus said, "The evolution of our transatlantic service into what it is today is a credit to the people who have worked in Aer Lingus throughout its history. Our evolution from a single route in 1958 to achieving global brand recognition that resonates across North America is an Irish success story. As we look to the future, I have no doubt that the next 50 years of Transatlantic flying are set to be very exciting ones for Aer Lingus and for Ireland."

In 1958, the Super Constellation aircraft operated a single route from Ireland to New York three times weekly and carried 14,781 passengers in the first year. Now in 2008, Aer Lingus remains in the market leader position on transatlantic. Nine Aer Lingus Airbus A330 aircraft take to the skies across the North Atlantic, bound for the US several times a day. Operating 122 flights a week, Aer Lingus carries in excess of one million passengers a year to and from seven destinations across North America.

Dr Garret FitzGerald said, "It was an exciting moment when, during my closing months as the company's Research and Schedules Manager, we finally launched Ireland's transatlantic air service. Two earlier postponements of the service had, I believed, been justified because of inadequate demand, but now, in April 1958, the traffic volume finally ensured the successful launch of the service, with leased aircraft which within three years were replaced by our own fleet."

"This is a momentous day for Aer Lingus and indeed for the aviation industry in Ireland. The fact that over one million Irish people now fly transatlantic each year is a testament to how far the Irish aviation industry has come in fifty years. As much as today is about celebrating the past, I have no doubt that the next phase in the development of an independent Aer Lingus will meet and exceed the expectations of Irish and international customers alike." said Minister for Transport, Noel Dempsey TD of the occasion.

The journey from Dublin to New York lasted 12 hours. This compares with an average journey time of seven hours today. Aircraft then held 100 passengers and 9 crew, today's aircraft carry over 300 passengers and 12 crew. Menus from 1958 indicate that passengers were served a "Sandwich Meal" during the flight.